Bruins Prospect Report
The Boston Bruins prospects will have a daunting task ahead of them this 2013-14 season: trying to crack an already stacked lineup with no glaring weaknesses. The Bruins prospects will need to showcase something extraordinary to have the opportunity to put on the spoked B and skate on the Garden ice during the upcoming season. But if one of the youngsters does gets called up, what should be expected of them? Here’s the who’s who of B’s hopefuls.
Ryan Spooner: Center
Arguably the Bruin’s top prospect this season, the 21-year-old center has the knack for play making and goal scoring. Ryan Spooner led all AHL rookies with 57 points (17 goals, 40 assists) in 59 games, and even donned the spoked B for four games last season during a David Krejci injury. He is an intelligent and creative playmaker, and the smoothness in which he carries the puck is a force to be reckoned with. Spooner is eyeing Peverley’s recently vacated spot, but it won’t be easy given his average size and overall lack of strength and physicality. And with the traffic jam already at center ice it’s unlikely that he’ll make the opening day roster. However, if he slides over to right wing, Spooner could be a nice compliment for the Soderberg-Kelly line. There is no denying Spooner is a future gem—give him some more time to develop and he could play a crucial role in fixing the Bruin’s power-play woes. If all goes according to plan, B’s fans could be seeing a spoonful of the youngster this season.
Reilly Smith: Left Wing
22-year-old Reilly Smith was one of three players dealt to Boston from the Seguin blockbuster this summer. Smith has 40 games of NHL experience, which gives him a major edge over the other prospects. He had an excellent rookie campaign in the minors before getting called up in Dallas, scoring 8 goals and tallying 6 assists for 14 points in as many games. Smith doesn’t dazzle when it comes to size, strength, or speed, but he can finish around the net with ease. Smith could potentially find himself on the wing of a Kelly-Soderberg line. As a two-way player with quick hands, Smith should be stiff competition for the other Bruins hopefuls.
Malcom Subban: Goalie
Drafted 24th overall in 2012, the 19-year-old has the makings to be an elite goalie. Although he had some struggles in the World Junior Championship last season, Malcom Subban still proved himself as a top netminder in the OHL. Subban posted a stellar 29-11-4 record with five shuotouts, 2.14 goals against average, and a .934 save percentage. Although he was in net for the B’s tough preseason loss to the Red Wings last Thursday, it’s hard to deny all of the talent lurking in the youngster. Subban will get a crack at the pros this season, as he is expected to be a back up in Providence where he will get time to refine his talents. Subban is an elite prospect and given his athleticism and agility, he will be in the B’s organization for quite some time. Plus, the idea of the Subbans squaring off with each other in one of sports’ greatest rivalries is understandably appealing and is enough to keep him around.
Joe Morrow: Defense
At only 20 years old, Joe Morrow moves the puck up the ice like a veteran. Pushing the puck up the ice seems like an obvious skill to have (and it is), but it’s not fully appreciated until a team can’t get into the offensive zone on the power play (cough cough, Bruins). Morrow, who was also one of the three players acquired from Dallas in the Seguin deal, is a skilled defenseman that can get the puck to his wingers in a good position to continue up the ice. However, seeing as though there are no openings in the B’s defensive corps, the youngster was cut from training camp last Friday. Morrow will provide Providence with some defensive power, as they are expected to lose Krug and Bartkowski to the NHL this season. A stint in the AHL will give the raw blueliner more developing time so that he will be ready for the Garden ice in the event of an injury.
Matt Fraser: Left Wing
The third piece in the Seguin trade puzzle, the 23-year-old will be competing for the highly contested third line spot with Spooner and Smith. Matt Fraser’s goal scoring prowess could be a game changer. Fraser is an aggressive, high scoring, hard-hitting player—classic Bruins style. He split last season between the NHL and AHL, producing 46 points (33 goals, 13 assists) in the AHL and three points (one goal, two assists) in the NHL. Even though his two-way game needs some work, he’s got the size and grit to be a threat on the B’s third line.
Niklas Svedberg: Goalie
Swedish netminder Niklas Svedberg won the “Baz” Bastien Award for outstanding goaltender in the AHL last season. During the regular season he was lights out, recording a 31-8-2 record with three shutouts, a 2.26 goals against average, and a .922 save percentage. The 24-year-old is expected to be Providence’s starting goalie for the upcoming season and, with the departure of Anton Khudobin, he could also challenge for the role as Tuukka’s backup.
Alexander Khokhlachev: Center
20-year-old Alexander Khokhlachev spent last season playing in three different leagues (KHL, OHL, AHL) and in the WJC. The young Russian is a high-end stickhandler and scorer that can effortlessly put the puck in the net. Khokhlachev is one of Boston’s most skilled offensive futures but he’s nowhere near ready to compete for a spot with the big club just yet. The youngster will be able to develop his skills in his first full AHL season this year after showing flashes of brilliance in a limited spring stint.
Chad Johnson: Goalie
No, the Bruin’s did not sign Ochocinco during the offseason. Chad Johnson, 27, is a veteran of 10 NHL games, having spent a vast majority of his professional career in the AHL. In four games last season with the Coyotes, he went 2-0-2 with a shutout while posting a .954 save percentage and 1.21 goals-against average. Johnson won’t be as big of cap hit as Svedberg, so he could skate away with the backup job.
Anthony Camara: Left Wing
Anthony Camara spent last season in the OHL on the Barrie Colts. The 20-year-old winger plays a Bruins-style of game as a heavy-hitting middleweight who can provide offense. Camara has great hands and a willingness to drop the gloves, like most of the Bruins players. However, with Boston’s veteran roster, there’s a lot of room for the player Camara is right now. Camara will most likely spend the entire season in the AHL, working on personal discipline and figuring out how to get the most from his abilities.
10. Jared Knight: Right Wing
Jared Knight, 21, is a gritty two-way winger. Knight suffered a hamstring injury last season resulting in him only playing 13 games between the AHL and ECHL. He is a hard-working, character player but, given his recent injury, he’s far from being a top-six forward candidate. Knight must stay healthy this year and prove to the B’s organization that he can be a gritty and durable AHL contributor before he’ll get an NHL chance.
It was not too long ago that the Bruins lacked serious depth and talent in their prospect ranks, but Boston has built up one of the better farm systems the past few seasons through the draft, free agent signings, and trades. But with a lot of talented prospects comes a lot of competition. And being part of a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, you could say their chances of earning a roster spot are the same as Alex Ovechkin winning the Selke Trophy—damn near impossible. It’ll be interesting to see who will skate on the Garden ice for the B’s this season, but fans can rest assured knowing all the young firepower the B’s are stockpiling.